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A Life of Negotiation. Communicating and Negotiating With Foreigners

Chapter 11: Communicating and Negotiating With Foreigners

More and more opportunities

Our country,

like every other country in the world,

has an economy that is heavily dependent on import and export.

In the context of globalization and the flat world,

our relationships are growing,

becoming more and more complex

and allowing us to meet more and more partners from many countries.

But Vietnam alone has more features.

Many products of our country are not found anywhere else

such as lacquer,

silk embroidery,

agricultural products,

some types of fish,


Not to mention the scenic spots

that are very attractive to tourists.

Our forests and seas have many strange animals

and plants that have never been counted.

All these factors make Vietnam attract more tourists

from all over the world,

in the long run,

not just temporarily.

The opportunity to welcome foreigners to study

or just curious to explore here

and there in our country will always only increase.

According to the common opinion of tourists

who have visited our country,

it is considered that our ethnic group has relatively few people

who know foreign languages.

Even in big cities,

that index is not high,

but if you go to rural villages or small cities,

it is even less.

Compared to other countries in the region,

perhaps we still have to try to go further.

Speaking a foreign language is one thing,

but when we welcome foreigners,

or when Vietnamese people travel,

the confusion is even more obvious,

because without a foreign language

we still have little understanding of their culture

Therefore, there are many cases that cause confusion and,

of course,

will not properly promote the feelings foreigners want for us

as well as the feelings we have for them.

When it comes to the problems of a negotiation on a project

with many legal,



and personnel mysteries,

the confusion and bewilderment reaches its peak.

Even just negotiating

between Vietnamese people is sometimes too complicated,

let alone foreign delegations,

not to mention delegations of multinational companies

sometimes containing dozens of nationalities and races,


customs in their own union!

What do you think is complicated?

So to illustrate,

I just mentioned many occasions

when I negotiated with a Vietnamese delegation right away.

Once, I led a French delegation to Ho Chi Minh City,

to attend a negotiation in the presence of a very high-ranking Vietnamese official.

Of course I had to speak in English,

and the Vietnamese side spoke Vietnamese,

and both sides used interpreters.

However, when listening to the interpreters of both sides

(our interpreter translates from English to Vietnamese,

the interpreter on the other side translates from Vietnamese to English),

I noticed that there are many mistakes

(because I fluent in all three languages

(English – French – Vietnamese should understand the situation),

sometimes they even translate completely against the speaker’s intention.

Only then did I understand how difficult

it can be to have a technical

or financial negotiation using multiple languages!


It is due to the technical nature of the project or the product.

The interpreter is merely good at the foreign language,

but do they know anything about the technique?



the negotiating partners themselves are fluent in each other’s languages,

because only then can it be possible to sympathize

with each other about the mechanical,

biological or medical details

that are the subject of discussion!

Imagine you go to Thailand to negotiate the area

where the project is to be built.

They often use the word “rai” to talk about area.

They measure the distance with arms outstretched like the wings of an airplane

and say a few thousand arms outstretched!

It is the same as the Ca Mau people call it a “public”.

Imagine if the British side used the ruler in inches,


yards… to negotiate with the Thai side who could only use the word rai,

or the Vietnamese side who could only talk about public units,

the interpreter’s job would be so difficult any!

I’m sure any faction

that only knows how to use meters will feel lost!

Another case

I encountered while in China was

that the interpreter was not very good at translating numbers.

On our side,

we calculate money according to the Western way,

It is using methods such as one thousand,

ten thousand,

one hundred thousand,

one million;

On the Chinese side,

there are people who use the number of thousands.

You may know that ten thousand is ten thousand,

but the interpreter does not.

When the negotiation came to the number of 150,000,

the interpreter was confused

and did not understand

if that number was 15,000 or 150,000,

so he misinterpreted it.

And after the two delegations withdrew to rest,

the members of both sides were more suspicious of each other,

fearing that the other side would intentionally use untranslatable numbers

to mislead the price of the project.

At that time,

when I thought of the pages of history books saying that

one country brought tens of thousands of troops to the other country,

I couldn’t help but wonder

if the historians recorded the correct number?

Surely the historian at that time had not studied mathematics at a high level,

and between thousands,

tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands,

perhaps no one was able to count accurately.

In the same negotiation,

the interpreter was dumbfounded

when the French delegation talked about the greasy state of the paint.

Right on the French side had to try

in the English dictionary to indicate the greasy condition.

On the Chinese side,

even the interpreters could not find the words in the Chinese dictionary,

and they personally did not understand what the oily state was.

They keep asking again and again whether the body is liquid or hard?

The French delegation replied

that it was neither liquid nor hard,

it was greasy!

So the two sides are more suspicious of each other,

afraid of having a concoction that is detrimental to the buyers.

There was only one word

that the interpreter couldn’t find right away,

and it took us a day to argue.

By the next day,

when we had time to look up the preposition

and use the correct words,

it was too late.

The interpreter lost his place,

had to give up the role to another bad guy to replace the next day.

Negotiations also save for difficult situations

where there are cultural or historical differences.

You probably remember at the end of the 20th century

there was a war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falklands.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to have a technical negotiation

between the British and the Argentines after the war?

Just went to watch a football friendly match

between the two countries a few years later.

Each time,

there was a powerful mobilization of the orderly police,

and the press only mentioned the unforgettable feud

and saw the match as a war of old revenge.

History has many similar stories,

sometimes friendly,

sometimes war.

When descendants of conflicting generations enter into negotiations,

even on completely impartial topics,

the contention is unusually tough,

let alone other historical disasters,

such as the what the Germans did to the Jews in the mid-20th century,

or the mark the Japanese left on China years before.

Principles to respect when negotiating with foreigners

1. Enlistment is optional

Negotiating anywhere,

etiquette must follow the customs of that place.

Here I feel obliged to remind readers

that the custom of welcoming

and receiving guests of our nation goes too far,

unreasonably foreign.

It happened many times

when I myself brought a French delegation to negotiate here and there.

I am the head of the delegation,

and the list of the delegation is also sent to the reception

with the position of each member.

However, when arranging seats for negotiation,

my friends in the country

still let some Westerners

who are my employees sit in the seats usually arranged for the Presidium,

while I played with the group like a normal member.

When speaking,

the main partner on the Vietnamese side kept looking at my Western assistant to speak,

making him in a very awkward position,

kept looking at me with his eyes asking for help,

and then announced his resignation

for the head of the delegation is me.

However, after so many reminders,

the Vietnamese side still could not absorb the situation.

They act like it’s carved in stone

that yellow skin can’t be a white boss!

This is the case very often.

In a conference with a large presence of overseas Vietnamese,

many Vietnamese professors,


and engineers living abroad complained about this incident.

They led the American,



British and French delegations to visit Vietnam,

but the Vietnamese side still had a hard time understanding

that it was the Vietnamese

who was the leader of the delegation!

On the other hand,

foreigners visiting Vietnam are looking forward to being instructed

in customs and proper manners,

such as how to address,

how to dress when going to a meeting,

and when invited to give gifts properly.

Instead of teaching them according to Vietnamese customs,

we tend to try to imitate them.

Then we indulge them excessively,

going beyond warm hospitality,

sometimes to the edge of submissive servitude.

I have witnessed many Vietnamese friends

who just met a Western friend

who organized a hearty family meal

with the presence of grandparents as well.

It is too much and of course also makes the Western friend confused.

I also knew another guy

who just met a Japanese on the street.

This man asked for a map of the street

and asked for directions to places to visit,

but the friend did not know how to take this person out until late at night,

forgetting to come home to have dinner with his family!

It’s good to have to host foreigners like that,

but it’s hard to think that

you would treat a compatriot from Ca Mau or Can Tho so warmly.

The guest who comes to us must follow our customs.

We have a duty to teach them the beauty of Vietnamese culture and society.

They will love it,

will love it!

And they will pay their respects by respecting what we teach them.

On the contrary,

you must remember that

when we go to their country,

we also have to open our eyes and ears to learn

and respect the customs there,

which very few of us can do.

2. Respect your partner, but avoid frills

I do not want to shirk responsibility

when I tell you that many Vietnamese delegations do not behave properly

when going abroad for work,

especially the delegations of civil servants.

Not only did I hear reports from many witnesses,

but even the “perpetrator” sometimes showed it directly to me.

So what are their sins?

They are wise respect partner!

For example we have strange habits.

We wait for the water to reach our feet

before applying to visit our partners abroad,

something that should not be done because it is very rude.

Even a few days before departure,

our delegation list has not been sent,

the reason for asking to meet is still unclear.

Or on the forecast list,

there are many names that are deliberately wrong,

if not virtual,

up to 70%,

making foreigners immediately think of disputes

between people who want to go out.

Not only that, there are many women’s names

that do not specify what title and agency they represent.

The foreign side needs to know those details,

because they need to forecast which characters to invite from their side.

When the reason is not clear,

it is also difficult for them to invite their members.

On the day of the meeting,

it was very common that most of the delegations escaped from the meeting,

pushing the deputy head of the delegation

to represent the whole delegation.

When it was time for dinner,

even the vice-brother apologized,

causing the host side to sit and eat among themselves.

Of course they are very upset.

Once, on the list sent abroad,

there was the name of the wife of the head of the delegation.

Friend, overseas they don’t joke about this!

The woman was very respected,

so when they saw that the Vietnamese side had the wife

of the leader of the delegation,

they frantically reported to the boss,

imploring their wives to attend.

You cannot imagine how painful arrangements are made in the families of foreign officials.

Some people have to have a hard time talking to their wives,

there are families with many children who have to hire a babysitter while both grandpa

and grandma have to go to an official party…

In the evening,

when the host faction arrived in large numbers

to wait for Vietnamese guests with elegant and graceful wives,

oh well,

there were only two “males” on the Vietnamese delegation,

both the boss and the deputy apologised absent,

and there was no sign of a woman.

Just like that, year after year,

bad habits are still bad habits,

so the foreign side has learned the lesson.

Therefore, every time we ask for a meeting,

whenever they suspect that

this is a case of using an excuse to go out,

they just continue to follow the rules.

This is really bad for our reputation,

very unfortunate!

Worse is our outings on the right days off.

Sometimes we don’t hesitate

to ask to see the foreign agency at 8am on Sunday morning.

I used to have to say difficult things to the celebrant

to make them sacrifice their day off like this.

But when the meeting had just ended,

they did not hesitate to sarcastically reproach!

Not to mention the style of dress.

I once witnessed a dean professor visiting a foreign university wearing jeans.

At the reception,

the professors on the reception side all dressed up with ties,

sitting in a formal line like at the award ceremony.

Needless to say,

I was so embarrassed sitting next to me that

I couldn’t hide my face.

My friend,

disrespecting the partner will never achieve good results

when entering into negotiations.

On the contrary,

I have seen many cases of successful meetings

and negotiations by our own delegation who were elegant,

cheerful and careful.

Those times they talked smoothly,

responded quickly and squarely,

and it was not too difficult to please both sides.

In short,

I have never understood the contemptuous attitude

of many of our colleagues when visiting foreign countries.

On the contrary,

our foreign attitude is sometimes too exaggerated,

making foreign partners uncomfortable,

becoming formal to the point of awkwardness.

This must also be avoided

because when communicating or negotiating,

when both parties are not completely comfortable,

it is difficult to come to a deep understanding.

Perhaps we still need more opportunities to communicate

with foreign countries to absorb more communication culture.

3. Get to know the culture openly

One of the characteristics of foreigners is that

they are very curious

when learning about the culture of other countries,

especially Westerners.

I must confess that sometimes

I am “stuck”

when they ask many details about history,

ancient or modern.

My friend,

when I go out into society,

I see that there are many people of incredibly high culture.

I used to sit next to an airplane seat with a young American guy

who kept asking me about cai luong music!

He speaks Vietnamese and loves our country very much.

I also met a French scholar

who was translating a book of Vietnamese short stories into his mother tongue,

asking me to help him understand the meaning of some Vietnamese words…

When going abroad,

you should not hesitate to ask carefully,

learn thoroughly about the customs of the country,

where their ethnic origin comes from,

what heroic history pages they have in their history,

the origin of their voices their country,

and how they greet and address them…

Foreigners really appreciate you

if you care about their country,

their people.

They can sit with you for hours,

eager to answer a hundred questions you ask.

And in the end they will like you more.

Of course,

you have the obligation to return the favor,

to be considerate and patient

when it’s your turn to tell them about our country.

Getting to know and liking each other is the first stage of negotiation,


4. Have fun, never be offended or hasty

Among my foreign friends,

there are many people who love Vietnamese people and culture.

But at the same time,

they find us very difficult to understand.

They find us very easily upset or offended,

very easy to lose face,

easy to have guilt.

When we’re happy,

we laugh,

when we love someone we rush to help,

when we hate,

we can’t even sit at the same table.

And of course they kept asking me how to behave in such difficult situations,

because in the same situation they did not react as we do!

I don’t know either,

because honestly,

even between us,

it’s hard to know how to behave properly.

To return to the main topic of negotiation,

my advice is that we should always keep an attitude of moderation,

reasoning and explanation.

We can behave with… heart,



heart in normal relationships,

so that emotions are released.

But when it comes to negotiations,

we must keep our minds clear,

even if the person sitting

in front of us is a personal enemy!

You shouldn’t forget that the negotiating partners

we meet are people we don’t know before,

with a different culture than ours,

and the only similarity is that

they come to achieve a buy/sell or collaborative outcome.


like us,

do not want to fail,

and they also accept the difficulties

and sacrifices that must be made.

In addition,

they do not forget that they are only representatives of a group,

so they have to put aside their personal feelings

and only use reason to handle them.

So, my friend,

what is there to be upset about?

Let’s work together to find solutions

or models to reach agreement.

If you look at the negotiation so indifferently,

it is like a trip on the same boat.

During the trip,

each faction had to peacefully explain their wishes,



and expectations so that when the ship arrived,

all disagreements were leveled.

It’s simply that.

Regardless if they are black or white,

if they are Buddhist,

Christian or Muslim,

if they have no education or a doctorate,

if they are a head of state or a low-ranking civil servant…

Regardless if they I can’t speak Vietnamese,

or I can’t speak their language.

Both sides must remember to put differences

or guilt in the refrigerator,

put pride in the pocket,

person to person to come to an agreement.

Because the deal is successful.

No deal is failure,

that’s all.

5. Say yes, say no

One of the weak points in our culture of negotiation is

that we don’t master the art of saying

yes as well as saying no!

When we say yes,

often we are in a hurry.

When we say no we procrastinate before we say no. Why?

I don’t follow the “customs” mentioned above and can’t explain why.

When it comes to saying no,

it’s best to say it directly and right away.

Experience shows that the longer it goes on,

the harder it becomes to say no later.

The reason is that the negotiation continues on a false assumption.

Sometimes the partner

in front of us begins to feel the need to ask more questions

to find out if we say no is no,

or if we are still yes…

Then they may silently blame themselves for not saying it out loud enough to lose it,

time for both sides.

What’s the answer here?

Perhaps we procrastinate

because we think in our hearts that speaking is not capable of shocking.

My friend, for Westerners,

even for other Asians,

what matters is the outcome.

If you know for sure not,

then stop the work early.

It is only a matter of formality to present what is not as a matter of form,

as are a few examples below:

We are not satisfied with the quality of the product

you delivered last time.

We find the rates too high,

company XY sells cheaper,

and nothing to hide,

if nothing changes we will terminate the meeting for today.

We love your product,

but it doesn’t quite fulfill the function we expect…

Above are some examples of saying no clearly,


without any affection,

giving the partner

in front of them answers to questions they might ask.

And the advantage is that doing so is both precise and positive.

It does not have a silent disparagement,

it gives data to the partner

to have more opportunities to correct mistakes,

it will not offend,

and especially the partner will appreciate the straightforward way of speaking,

without twisting or twisting,

especially not to waste the time of both parties.

That’s the way the book is,

say it directly,

say it clearly,

say it right away,

look at the problem positively,

don’t put your emotions in the wrong place

when you have to say no.



don’t let your partner waste your time.

You must always remember that

when they come to their country,

they have to rent a hotel,

they are thousands of kilometers away from their family,

for a whole month

If we need a week,

a month to say no then we are really at fault!

In any case,

the whole world has now chosen a common language

that is neither blunt nor emotionless.

We have to follow that common language too!

So, conversely,

when you want to say yes or OK,

do you have to say it right away?

When we say yes,

we Vietnamese like to hurry.

It’s like a natural response,

like delivering good news.

But there are many reasons not to do so.

When it comes to saying yes,

it is imperative that the negotiations continue.

But as long as they continue,

they still…negotiate,

still have to ponder,



When we are subject to a term,

a condition,

a challenge,

before saying OK

we must also put the condition back,

we must plead before we nod!

Ask for more,

ask for more,

what’s the hurry,

OK now?

People often jokingly pair yes with the American yes,

and the no with the Russian niet!

Russians are often cold,

especially when they say niet.

And Americans rarely say yes

without matching some conditions.

So why not imitate them:

Say niet coldly like a Russian,

and say yes no less coldly,

but with a fresh American touch!

Once again,

I emphasize to the reader that yes or no,

it is important to get the negotiation on track

and at the desired pace.

You should never hide behind your fingers and avoid

when you say no,

or rush to say yes.

Both attitudes can be detrimental.

6. Be positive

If you’re not active,

it means you don’t want to come to an agreement.

Whether true or not,

foreign partners will understand that.

I have negotiated many times with government officials from many countries,

and I clearly have the feeling

that my superiors want to come to an agreement with us quickly.

But subordinates kept yawning in meetings,

didn’t say much,

and didn’t have any proper answers

to the questions posed.

Of course, the negotiations dragged on for months in vain.

Sometimes negotiations are like a heavy truck

that both sides have to push together to the finish line.

Whenever one side does not actively push,

it is not known when the new car will arrive.

7. Be honest in your words

There are many people who believe

that in a negotiation must always be fake to distract the other side,

hide the intentions of their own side.

I don’t understand where

they learned this habit from,

but personally,

I think that attitude will never help them

achieve the desired results

but it is also offensive.

I have come across many negotiating cases

where one side spoke very clearly and honestly,

and the other side spoke in such a way

that no one really understood what they were trying to say.


an American company specializing in the production of car tires moved to France

and wanted to buy a French company that went bankrupt.

They made it clear that

they would keep a certain number of employees,

promised to put in how much capital,

and said they wanted to develop the company on a very clear path.

But the French side kept faltering.

Unions don’t want to allow layoffs.

The minister was determined not to lower the French flag.

But when the American boss wanted to withdraw,

they kept him to negotiate.

The American boss asked,

“What do you want?”

the French side did not have a clear answer

because they were not honest among themselves,

so it was impossible to conclude a general statement.

I advise you to be clear about what you want in a negotiation,

for the simple reason that it is impossible for the other side to guess what you mean.

They only have an idea of you,

but they need more clear facts about the overall picture of the negotiation.

Experience shows that an honest attitude does no harm,

only benefits.

Anyway, where did you sign the contract document

without worrying about telling lies or revealing?

Honesty doesn’t mean being honest.

Truth does not mean telling.

When the partner is a foreigner,

you should repeat more and more clearly what you want.

And ask carefully what they want.

I also want to advise you not to hesitate to ask your partner

to repeat what they want over and over again.

Again, that doesn’t mean you don’t understand!

But just because you want to better understand what your partner means.

You keep repeating “please repeat” (please repeat),

and if still not clear,

don’t be afraid to “please repeat again” to ask them

to repeat it again for clarity.

8. It is best to master a foreign language

There is no better advice than to study hard

for a foreign language

because this is the number one weakness of most of us.

On a previous page,

I mentioned the case of having to negotiate through an interpreter.

How difficult!

Friends, in the field of foreign languages,

we are very subjective.

Not every time I go here and there,

I feel comfortable with my foreign language level,

but I may think that the level is high enough to negotiate.

A negotiation that lasted weeks,


The partners have a distinct way of speaking,

with different tones.

You have to be fluent in a foreign language to understand it all.

Speaking of English only,

I have had a meeting with all kinds of English speakers.

This is a Hong Kong guy who speaks Honglish,

Mrs. Singapore with Singlish,

a British man with a Cockney accent,

an Australian from Brisbane

who bends his tongue in a different way which is very difficult to hear,

an American friend slurred “cowboy” with a nasal accent.

If your English is rich enough to absorb all of it,

you are probably invincible.

Today, the world is in a period of globalization,

yet there are a hundred ways to speak English.

Even Chinese has several dozen ways.

To illustrate the domestic level,

I have had the opportunity to attend many meetings international event in Ho Chi Minh City

with very confident English speaking MCs. This MC must be an American overseas Vietnamese.

The people at the table were very impressed. However,

when I left,

an American friend told me

that sometimes she didn’t understand what the MC said,

because I didn’t know

because I didn’t know the rhyme

or the sentence had no beginning or no ending.

Thus, this MC’s English is not up to the standard (for an MC!).

Just such an assessment is enough to make us realize that

there is still a long way to go

before we truly master the foreign language to enter into negotiations.

When I was young,

I learned English early.

However, when I entered the working life,

I realized that I still had to learn more. 40 years later,

although I can confirm that

I speak 3 languages with the same level

as my mother tongue (English – French – Vietnamese),

but every time I go to English-speaking countries,

such as Ireland,


I still can’t help but feel nervous.

To be honest,

there are times

when I do not understand what the interlocutor wants to say,

just because they use “native” English with a “native” accent.

Being good at a foreign language is one thing,

but when the microphone is broken in a noisy room

and you can still understand what Mr. My is saying,

then you really master his language.

I have emphasized that using interpreters is extremely difficult,

but also very expensive.

Vietnam urgently needs to cooperate with the whole world,

we need a lot of personnel who thoroughly understand the spoken

and written languages of most of the advanced countries

such as Japan, Korea, Germany, France, USA, UK, Australia,

China, Spain, Portugal…

This has been done very well by China for decades.

In their Departments of Commerce or Foreign Affairs,

there are many professionals who speak all languages very well,

and in addition have a high level of technical expertise

for the very industry they have to interpret.

I have met some of these people and confirmed

that they really master the specialized foreign language.


we must not have reached that level of preparation.

But I think it’s not too late to start now.

9. Body language with foreigners

Usually, body language is the same across countries.

With the pace of globalization,

all the images on TV,


and other media have the effect of making people all over the world

fall in love with a common style.

And every time they’re faced with the same situation,

they often have roughly the same body language.

At this rate,

perhaps a hundred years from now,

the world’s body language will be the same.

I’ve never seen Westerners shake their thighs,

but I think in a short time

they’ll learn this favorite move.

All over the world people stroke their hair

when they are thinking about a problem,

scratch their heads

when they are wondering,

stroke their noses

when they find it difficult to handle something.

People clasp their hands together

while focusing their thoughts,

and crack their fingers

when they haven’t found a solution.

If not interested,

most look at the ground,

put their hands on their foreheads to cover their eyes.

And when it’s interesting,

most people nod.

By the time someone puts their index finger in your face,

it’s clear they have something tough to say to you.

People with arms crossed will not easily jump into the game.


someone who raises both hands seems to want to get involved.

The person sitting cross-legged will wait for the time,

and the person who puts both feet on the ground

and moves his head aggressively is the one who is preparing to attack,

you should be on the lookout.

The most dangerous case is the partner falling asleep.

Man, I’ve never seen anyone really sleep.

Once, I had a case of a man who clearly fell asleep

and then snored in the middle of a meeting.

But somehow when it was his turn to speak,

he got up and said very sharp,

timely things,

surprising everyone around.

From that day on,

I still told myself not to look down on the person sleeping in the meeting

! The sleeping movement is an extremely dangerous body language,

like a crocodile quietly submerged in the water,

only opening one eye,

not moving,

until the delicious bait on the shore approaches the water,

it jumps up only.

Just one bite and the bait is swallowed.

Body language is the same but there are exceptions!

Arabs shake their heads when they agree,

nod when they disagree,

in stark contrast to us.

So do Indians and Turks.

Just that one example is enough to show how difficult

it is to guess

when it comes to tracking a partner’s body movements,

let alone those who laugh out loud,

stand still,

and roll their eyes.

My friend,

a hundred people is a thousand different types,

how to say it all,

but know how to be sure!

I have only one advice:

train your intuition after many years of observing your partner’s gestures,

and gradually you will have a more sophisticated view.


I still don’t believe body language can help you

absorb the situation any more than written words in a negotiation.

Intuition can help,

but it can’t take the place of formal,

open and unambiguous statements.

10. The most annoying is the feeling of being strong towards us

Vietnam is still considered an economically weak country.

So when it comes to appointing employees to go abroad,

foreign companies often reserve the best employees for advanced countries,

and leave us at a lower level.

Already I have made that comment many times,

not only with Vietnam but also with some countries temporarily called weak urine.

Another thing worth noting is

that some personnel

from the great powers sometimes can’t hide their pride when they talk to our side.

This is very annoying.

Once, a rare incident happened to me

when I represented a Vietnamese company to receive a foreign delegation.

The leader of the delegation was still young.

Seeing that I was Vietnamese,

he immediately had a pretty confident voice,

if not a bit “patriarchal”.

I asked him if he knew a former colleague of mine with the same last name.

He confirmed that it was his father,

then curious to know what my connection was.

I just said old colleagues.

In fact,

his father is just an employee of a French company of which

I am the General Director.

He must have called his father during the break,

because soon his voice changed completely,

no longer “patriarchal”.

This situation often happens to us.

Even guests who are not very high-class can still show a little pride,

easily making us uncomfortable.

Sometimes they even ask the employee’s salary,

then let out a sentence like

“How can I live with such a salary”.

It’s impolite.

No matter what they think,

they think of you.

We should not react strongly

even though we know their country’s institutions are not perfect,

the economy is also struggling,

society is also chaotic,

low-income people are also crowded,

traffic jams are just like us.

What I recommend is to put the personal communication aside

and focus on the negotiation.

You keep negotiating calmly,

keeping the same route,

not letting your emotions

or resentment affect your work.

In short, have a “pro” attitude.

A more difficult case to deal with is economic discrimination,

much more complicated than a personal one.

When negotiating with Europeans,

they keep giving us the impression that

we are inferior to them.

Maybe in their hearts they think we won’t be able

to surpass them in a thousand years.

Right or wrong,

this is very uncomfortable for us.

Even more annoying is that even our Asian neighbors like the Chinese,

or the Koreans,

or even the Malays and Thais,

sometimes see us as completely on the slow side.

And in negotiations

they take the concessions of the economically weak for granted.

Of course they never say it outright,

but nonetheless make us feel that way anyway.

When I led the company in France in the 1970s and 1980s,

they themselves were still far behind France,

so France funded a lot of projects in their country

with favorable conditions.

In order to negotiate with the “self-esteem inferiority complex” delegations,

I also have an appropriate solution.

They often come in large numbers, sometimes up to 30-40 members.

Although they are so numerous,

I always make an appointment to negotiate one-on-one with their leader

before the general meeting begins.

My friend,

when their leader was alone in front of me,

the situation was different.

They’re not as brilliant

as I thought they were,

they don’t even have the ability to form a stance

or make a decision.

These people often have to rely on each other to get ahead.

Going alone they are like “the naked king”

(le roi nu, according to the French proverb),

looking very funny.

And every time the negotiations slow down for some reason,

I ask to see the head of the delegation

to resolve the disagreements that cannot be reached in the plenary meeting.

Hand-to-hand negotiations,

not delegation-style negotiations,

have allowed me to easily overwhelm them many times.

Because Koreans, Chinese,

and even Japanese are very weak

when they negotiate alone,

while Vietnamese people are very sensitive about individuals.

On the other side,

they don’t have an overarching culture:

some are only good at engineering,

others only know about funding,

some even specialize only in machine maintenance…

I have a solid grasp of all the issues

that need to be addressed.


that is the mark of the French engineer,

so he is always in the upper hand

when negotiating one-on-one.

I advise you to do exactly as

I have experienced

when the opposing side uses a sea of people to dominate.

11. Cuisine

Friends, it is impossible to talk about negotiation fully

without talking about food.

People everywhere love to eat and drink.

And when the meeting,

no matter how tense the atmosphere,

when it’s time to eat and drink,

all the stress disappears,

leaving room for what people often call “drinking”.

Needless to say,

our Vietnam has a long tradition of “drinking”.

But that’s the case with most ethnic groups,

and almost no contract can be agreed upon today

if both parties have not drank the whole glass,

poured the whole bottle.

Obviously, you can’t be friendly if you’re not satisfied,

get drunk together at least once.

However, drinking culture and cuisine are not very similar,

you should be careful

because it affects the style

and ultimately the outcome of the negotiation.

Westerners love to drink beer in the afternoon after the meeting.

They can drink beer continuously from 18g to 21g,

then sit at the dinner table.

The most annoying thing is that they like to stand and drink,

not sit down!

They do not use food with beer bottles,

but simply drink beer.

Their customs,

They often tell crap in English

or French or German…

At those hours there are no interpreters to help you,

but even if there were interpreters,

they wouldn’t let this person in,

because working hours are over

and coming relaxing time!

So you are stuck, having to stand for 3 hours

between 5 or 6 men at least one head taller than you,

telling pure Western jokes,

speaking in the cowboy language on the street,

not the official language in the city meeting.

Until you are too hungry,

for example at 20g,

they still have to drink 3 more cans of beer,

tell a hundred more stories,

and still stand tall without getting tired.

It’s not until you feel hungry near death

that they come to the table.

At 10 o’clock at night,

you see people bring out your real plate of rice,

after many dishes such as sausages,



You burp, sleepy,

tired while they give the impression of being extremely happy.

You think about the next day,

the day after that,

and you feel lost.

You miss the fish sauce,

remember the hot hot pot

that can’t be found in foreign countries

And you know you have to hold out for weeks,


and days as one.

Even when drinking in our country,

you should be careful not to go too far.

Westerners sometimes look disheveled when they drink,

but they are always in moderation.

Europeans love to drink,

but they only drink a glass or two of good wine.

If you drag them to drink, you’re wrong.

They don’t understand the custom

that destroys our health when we drink,

especially when the alcohol is not healthy.

They always keep a little bit of sanity to conclude

that “they are crazy, drink 50 degrees to commit suicide”,

while we think that “fraternity” needs to be drunk.

Even if they have to drink poison,

they will drink it,

and they will give up.

This is where you should be cautious.

Because of just one wrong step,

your negotiation will be difficult to succeed.

As long as they really think I’m crazy,

there’s no need to negotiate anymore.

When I used to go to negotiations in China,

there was not a day without a party.

There are always a few dozen tables,

each with 12 people.

The menu is always 12 dishes,

including thick soup for meals,

and liquid soup for dessert.

At that time,

I did not know the Chinese style of eating well.

According to European custom,

you always have to eat empty plates.

But when eating at a party in China,

as soon as you finish your plate,

the guy sitting next to you picks up more for you.

The more you eat,

the more they pick up for you,

and they pick it up again and again.

It was not until later that I understood that

when you don’t want to eat anymore,

you have to let the pick up

and just let the food sleep on the table,

not touched.

I have horrible memories of eating like that,

it was like a struggle,

because even if you were full,

you still had to try to eat.

For a month in a row,

four meals a day,

12 dishes each,

I used to eat well,

but then I gave up!

The Chinese and Vietnamese have a characteristic that

they like to invite rare foods.

Snake skin,

sea cucumber,

or tortoiseshell,

bird’s nest…, no matter what to say.

But my friend,

if you eat snake skin every day,

I don’t know how long you will last,

and I don’t know if there will be enough snakes to eat later?

The Chinese also like to invite each other to drink,

but they race,

not force.

Once, I had to go through the procedure of “accommodation”

with the Chairman of Shandong province,

the place of origin of Confucius.

This man drank “one tree”,

33 cups and did not feel tired.

I can only drink 3 cups of Mao Tai,

the remaining 30 cups are filtered water.

In China,

they allow you to raise a cup of filtered water,

otherwise you have to pay someone to drink Mao Tai for you.

But at least people are very sympathetic

to your weak drinking power or the habit of keeping your body.

If you are the one inviting foreign guests,

you should check first whether

they bring their wives to negotiate in your country,

because foreigners rarely go alone,

especially at dinner.

If their wives join the delegation,

you will inevitably have to invite your own wife to attend.

In Western Europe,

women often prepare quickly,

a dress with a little makeup is done;

but the Vietnamese side will be more complicated.

Your wife will not like to go very much,

just want to stay at home,

because if you go and sit next to the lady,

what will you say now.

She will complain to her husband that

there is a lack of clothes to go out,

and then the marriage story will gradually become more difficult.

Dude, I don’t have a solution for this situation!

In case you invite foreign guests to your home for dinner,

they will consider it a great honor.

For foreigners,

there is no greater honor than having the hostess personally

pick up the dishes and offer the soup.

I think you should avoid this complicated situation,

because honestly,

it’s hectic.

I recommend taking them to a famous restaurant

if they are a valued customer.


you should choose a casual,

but comfortable restaurant,

mainly to help people relax

before the meeting the next morning.

One thing I want to remind you of is eating lunch

when the meeting lasts all day.

Foreigners don’t take a nap,

and at lunch they take it very lightly.

I once saw a similar meeting in Vietnam,

held too lavishly at noon.

The eating was too extravagant,

the party was too crowded,

the dishes were too much…

Finally, the meeting room was filled

with the smell of fish sauce throughout the afternoon,

and I also ate too much,

half of the room fell asleep.

The thing to remember is that in Western European countries,

they only have a sandwich with a cup of coffee for lunch,

and they only take a break of about 20 minutes is a lot.

Sometimes they even work while eating.

In short, food is not the most important thing for foreigners

(European or advanced countries).

In any case,

be cautious and avoid being too full.

When inviting foreigners,

you should only offer this

or that dish once,

and if they refuse,

don’t offer it a second time.

Begging for food is considered rude.

If you force them,

they will reciprocate,


but they will not be happy anymore.

When it comes to drinking,

I advise you to never force it.

12. Be careful

The story I tell next,

please tell first is not a myth.

In 1989,

I received a Deputy Minister of a South American country to France

to negotiate to buy a factory with my corporation.

This project is very important to us,

and I am very curious to know at what price they intend to buy.

His delegation consisted of only 4 people,

full of old characters and of course had traveled a lot.

Secret Service helped us know

for sure the price they want to buy.

I don’t know what and how the scouts did,

but only 24 hours after they landed in Paris,

I got my hands on some secret data of the visitors.


what business doesn’t have a secret agent?

The lesson I learned

when going on a business trip abroad is never to bring confidential documents,

but to memorize them.

And I also did not let my delegation know these secrets anymore

because I was afraid that someone in the delegation was not careful.

When you go to negotiate anywhere in the world,

do not forget that around you there is a gangster always ready

to trade information and data.

You just need to type in which hotel you are in,

what room number,

someone will quickly contact you

and offer to buy and sell information.

Of course,

the evil retribution,

if you reveal any information,

they will immediately sell it to your company’s competitors!

Needless to say,

you shouldn’t use hotel faxes,


or any other kind of machine.

And if you have an iPhone or a smartphone,

go out,

don’t stay in a room with a built-in microphone.

We are even more secure than that!

We communicated with each other using nicknames,

using signs that only we could understand.

When negotiating a project over 1 billion euros,

you should not naively think that

no one is watching you to extract valuable information,

because in just a moment

it can fall into the hands of the opponent.

13. There are reasons for foreigners and us to like each other more

In the Economic Times article that I am attaching,

I emphasize preparing for the negotiation

by getting to know the other party and their culture.

Each country has its own mark that adorns its honor.

When you are about to meet German,

French or Japanese,

you will make them very happy

and proud if you know their glorious history.

These pages of history are not necessarily about the military

but can be about culture,

or any other subject.

And if you know more about the advantages

of each individual in the group you will meet,

oh well,

they will love you like gold!

Think about it if an American told you

before entering the negotiation that

they admire the engineer Hoang Xuan Han,

or the astronomer Trinh Xuan Thuan,

or the Fields-winning mathematician Ngo Bao Chau,

would you do you enjoy this?

And if you immediately named Pierre

and Marie Curie to the French,

or Alexander Fleming to the English,

I’m sure your negotiations would have been friendly.

And success is not far away!

In the near future,

Vietnam will have many opportunities

to negotiate with foreign companies.

Buying a power plant or metro requires talking

with experts who are German,

Japanese or French;

buying a water purification plant will inevitably encounter the French;

development of electronic materials factories include the US,


and Korea;

and if building large real estate programs

It will inevitably have to negotiate with Korea or China.

It is the purchase.

What about selling?

Vietnam also exports construction materials,

agricultural products,

industry … in the context of globalization,

we are sure to access more and more foreign markets.

And what is access,

if not negotiating with foreigners?

Each nationality has a different way of working,

a view,

a reasoning,

a different liking.

Even the color of the goods is important.

For example Arab countries love the color green!

European countries like navy blue.


Canada and China like red.

In Asia,

there are countries that are very fond of yellow and white.

Just talking about the color of the goods,

I can see how hard it is to trade,

import and export!

When negotiating with a French delegation,

what must you do to give your side an advantage?

You will win the hearts of the French

if you know how to appreciate their culture.

Everyone is like that,

but for the French,

the element of literature is dominant.

In 1987,

the Argentine Minister of Education went to France

to negotiate an educational cooperation program

between the two countries.

He asked me to show him how to convince the French.

I asked him if he knew French,

and he replied that

when he was in kindergarten,

he only learned one French song,

I suggested he sing it innocently at the upcoming reception party.

As if, this song brought out a magical atmosphere.

The French partner appreciated

and the negotiations quickly reached the desired results.

The Germans are even easier.

There is no easier nation than Germany

when they already have feelings.

Just show them in the meeting

that you belong to the map of Germany

and they will immediately fall in love.

For example, with a sentence like

“I am so happy,

in my life

I have been able to drink beer at the Munchen Fair in the summer,

there is no better beer than the beer I drank that day…”.

Believe me,

the Germans will love you very much,

and maybe even give you a plane ticket

so you can go back to Munich for a beer!


don’t ask too much about their family

when you first meet them.

Be careful,

because Germans don’t like to talk about their private lives,

in stark contrast to Spaniards or Italians!

You only need to meet an Italian

or a Spaniard once or twice

and the story will change to the family theme.

I negotiated with an Italian delegation in 1992 in Milano.

By the second week I knew the name of the second wife

of the deputy head of the negotiating team!

When that result has been reached,

it is considered that the negotiation is on the way to success.

One of the most influential familiarization topics in Italy and Spain,

as well as Brazil,

Argentina, Mexico,

and Chile is football stories.

If you know the names of players like Pirlo,

Messi, Ronaldo

or if you remember how many goals Di Stefano

or Maradona scored in a player’s lifetime,

you have won the hearts of the opposing side.

There are also cases where you have to be very careful,

like when you are negotiating with the British in particular

and the Anglo-Saxon group in general (including the US).

Football-style feelings don’t lose to you.

The two sides were free to fight verbally,

making silly statements,

but only one thing that mattered was the text of the negotiation.

The Anglo-Saxons mastered the technique of writing very well,

using a series of lawyers,

sometimes just to make a sentence…

When reading a text they wrote,

it should be reread it at least twice.

If you see something strange,

or if you “smell” something unfamiliar,

don’t sign it.

Please pass it on to your attorneys

and colleagues for additional input.

Please understand that playing

with Anglo-Saxons must be very careful in terms of the law.

They always respect the law,

but always work “close to the border” between legal and illegal.

Like Beckham kicking the ball along the edge of the playing field!

If you do not know the rules

or are not used to playing on the border,

you are the “rice” of life.

The British have a habit of drinking beer from 5pm to 8pm

before going home.

It’s not like they like to get drunk!

But they can stand at the bar for hours without feeling tired.

According to my own experience,

it is very uncomfortable for me to stand

and drink with them,

because they are approximately 1.8m tall,

and I can’t stand up to the shoulders of all the people.

In my opinion,

if you go to the UK to negotiate,

there should be tall people in the delegation,

who drink well and especially like to chat with children,

no need to go anywhere!

When I went to Asia,

I was always impressed when negotiating with the Chinese.

There are so many kinds of Chinese people,

I can’t tell them all.

Hong Kong people negotiate or are impatient,

talking as if they are harsh on their faces!

Singaporeans are very cute,

but so professional

that they give their partners the impression that they are stupid.


whatever you ask,

they will have an answer:

“We guessed you would ask that question,

so we have prepared an answer.”

Everything they know already,

it’s ready,

it’s about to be… so angry,

my friend!

Again, the Taiwanese have the same way of working as the US.

Everyone has a Western name like Anthony,

Bernard, Max, Douglas, Edward…

but they like to be shortened.

Something like:

“Y.K. invite you to dinner tonight,

there will be the presence of C.Y., A.H.

and K.U…”.

Then when they come into the meeting,

they will start by asking you right away

what your company’s sales are.

If the number is less than 100 million dollars,

they look at you pitifully and say one sentence:

“It’s still small!”.

“Lie” is like that,

but you shouldn’t give them a bad impression.

Just continue the negotiation and ask again:

“I came here to buy your machine,

do you really want to sell it?”.

Must be more professional with professional people!

My favorite is negotiating with the Chinese on the mainland.

Listen to them speak,



always learn something from them.

First, they see how you are and then talk.

This few other nationalities know how to do.

Unlike the Germans,

they will immediately ask where you are from,

implying whether you are of Chinese origin or not.

If you are of Chinese descent,

they will consider you a countryman right away.

But they will ask if you can still speak Chinese.

If not, that’s okay,

because overseas Chinese are wise can speak Chinese

there are hundreds of millions.

It is important that you know a little about your hometown.

All those rituals are to see how much they can trust you.

The word “prestige” in the trade industry is the key

to negotiating with the Chinese.

When sitting with the Chinese,

you only need to remember one secret:

they only think about the price.

When they ask about your product,

or ask for technical details,

they end up driving your price down.

You should remember

that they like your product to negotiate with you!

Simply that.

Even close friendships,

in the end,

only bloom when you lower the price!

I have led a delegation to negotiate in China many times,

so I have one piece of advice:

when entering a topic,

be quiet,

answer accurately,

and be very patient.

If the price has to go down,

under any pressure,

it should only go down 0.1% at a time,

and explain that the price is down because of respect,

but “our price is the right price”.

When the other party is tired,

the contract is signed.

Our negotiations once lasted three years.

You should not get tired of them.

They are as tough as leeches,

I also have to be tough and sweet like candy!

Negotiating with Koreans looks difficult

but is actually very easy

because the key is that

they are eager to get results quickly.

The trick is that you should show them that

if they don’t agree to my terms,

I will change partners!

Koreans know their weakness is not possessing a proprietary technique.

They relearn more advanced countries,

so what compels us to buy back what

they themselves have just learned?


I have always hesitated to trade with Koreans

even though they have the lowest rates in the developed countries.

But how to ask them to transfer technology

when they have just finished their apprenticeship.


technology transfer is the key

to turning Vietnam into an advanced nation,

so when we buy anything,

we must firmly demand a comprehensive technology transfer contract.

It is easy for advanced countries like Germany and France

to give away technology,

but Korea is so new that it is difficult!

In negotiations,

you must remember that we are often in the “top” position!


many countries urgently need to sell projects to us

to reduce unemployment in their countries.

When they buy from us,

it is because they too need cheap

and quality products.

Also because we are in the “top hand” position,

let’s not forget the technology transfer clause.

Remember it!

Our children will benefit from it!

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